By Patrick Straub EBS Fishing Columnist
Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday have all become household phrases lately. Many of us locals might prefer a Hunting Humpday, Fly-Fishing Friday or Skiing Sunday. While much of the country partook in holiday season shopping rites of passage, many of us were opting to go outside to hunt, fish or ski. But as fortunate as we all are to live in southwest Montana, the season of gift giving is now upon us.
With tree gathering and decorating, holiday pageants and performances, and airport pick-ups and drop-offs, finding dedicated time to shop for the angler in your life can be hard. To make it even more challenging, knowing what to give is difficult for the untrained angling-centric gift bestower. Below are some of this season’s best gifts across all budgets for the fly fisher in your life.
The Hatch nipper. Nippers are an essential angling tool. Many anglers are not willing to splurge on high-end nippers because of their utilitarian roots. Splurge for them and buy the best nippers on the market. $99
Zippered waders. Patagonia and Simms make zippered waders that are the best on the market when it comes to durability, functionality and fit. A shift from chest-high waders to zippered waders is one not easily made; be the Santa superhero and make your angler happy this season. Zippered waders are ideal for cool and warmer weather fishing. In cooler weather relieving oneself is a snap and in warmer weather, unzipping the waders allows for a cool-down. Rio Gallegos by Patagonia run $599 and Simms G4Zs cost $799.
Rep Your Water pom-pom hat. Who doesn’t love a pom-pom on the top of their hat? Color the hat like your angler’s favorite fish, and you have a slam-dunk stocking stuffer. $21
Choosing the best gift for the angler in your life can be a tall order. But with a little patience and by seeking the advice of your local fly shop, you can land the perfect gift for your favorite angler. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN RIVER GUIDES
Redington Hydrogen trout spey rod. If your angler is curious about the two-handed rod craze, help them along with the ideal entry-level rod. This durable yet lightweight and responsive fly rod will allow your angler to be a part of the next big thing in local fly fishing. $349
Yeti Rambler. We all know the quality of Yeti coolers. Scale down the size of their awesome coolers and make them more personal with a Yeti Rambler. Whether your angler wants to keep a hot beverage steamy or a cold beverage refreshing, now’s the time to save with Yeti’s nation-wide price discount on their hugely popular Yeti Ramblers. They’re 25 percent off through Dec. 10 nationwide. Prices vary.
Echo BASE outfit. A very popular “grab ‘n go” fly rod, line and reel package. They cast well, are durable, and provide everything needed to get started. The outfit includes a rod case and is “river ready” the moment of unwrapping. This makes for a great first fly-fishing outfit or an ideal backpacking setup. $169
R.L. Winston Boron III LS. If your angler has “been there and done that,” they will appreciate one of the finest fly rods to hit the market in decades. Montana inspired, Montana designed and Montana made, R.L. Winston fly rods are an aspirational target of many anglers. The Boron III LS is made in Montana with our local waters in mind. Give your angler what they really want—a fly rod that will also be an heirloom. $795
Simms wading koozie. From high-end fly rods to essential accessories, every angler’s arsenal should including a wading koozie. Leave it to the good folks at Simms to use scrap neoprene for a stocking stuffer necessity—a koozie to keep your angler’s cold one cold. $13
Hareline fly tying kit with vise. Fly fishing progression is such: catch fish, catch lots of fish, catch big fish, and eventually catch big fish on flies tied personally. But your angler cannot tie his or her own flies without the proper fly tying kit. This kit is a complete kit with a vise and all the necessary tools. Materials and the desire to learn to tie flies are not included. $199
The gift of fishing time. A list of the best fly-fishing gifts is not complete without the gift of time to go fishing. This spans all budgets, from a few hours to wet a line to an unforgettable trip a few thousand miles away. The angler in your life will be happy with an afternoon on the Gallatin or the once in a lifetime trip to chase permit or dorado. In our increasingly busy lives, time to go fishing is precious, but it is often the best gift. Priceless
Holiday shopping season is here. It doesn’t matter if we embrace it or scoff at it—it’s not going away. Fortunately, if you’re reading this, your shopping just became a little easier.
Pat Straub has been guiding on the Smith River for nearly 20 years. He is the author of six books, including “The Frugal Fly Fisher,” “Montana On The Fly” and” Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Fly Fishing.” He and his wife own Gallatin River Guides in Big Sky.